Managing Your Career: How to Say Hello

Nyc wave goodbye

The Hello

There are best ways to say goodbye and best ways to avoid saying goodbye in the workplace. The same bit of logic applies to the best ways to say hello to new roles and let people know you’ve made a change.

Here’s a great (and real) example from my friend Willa Seldon:

“Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I recently joined the consulting practice of The Bridgespan Group as a partner.   Bridgespan’s mission is to use its strategy consulting, executive search and philanthropic advising services to strengthen the ability of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders to achieve breakthrough results in addressing society’s most important challenges and opportunities. Bridgespan achieves impact through its client work and by sharing broadly the insights and tools it develops. Bridgespan’s clients include the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Nurse-Family Partnership and After-School All-Stars.

I have admired Bridgespan’s work for many years. I’m delighted to join such a talented, committed and mission-driven group of people and to leverage my leadership, operational and strategic skills in a way that achieves broad impact.

In addition to my work at Bridgespan, I continue to be a passionate board member of KQED (Chair), Bryn Mawr College (Vice-chair) and a private nanotech company.  In my spare time, I’m taking piano lessons and continue to be a  member of Young Presidents’ Organization.

My new contact information is:

The Bridgespan Group
465 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
Web address:


So what’s so great about this career transition note?

Willa’s note has the following elements which make it effective:

  1. New contact information is present and easy to find.
  2. It’s timely; Willa’s information came out within 1-2 months of her move.
  3. There’s a narrative. You understand how and why Willa came to make that move to Bridgespan.
  4. It’s personalized. Though this was sent out en masse there’s inclusion of her professional and personal interests outside of the new role at Bridgespan following her time as the CEO of the Glide Foundation. That inclusion makes it feel personal, and as if she’s connecting with you individually.

Beyond simply doing great work, managing your career is frequently about doing the “small” things well; networking authentically, doing what you say you’re going to do, following-up, thanking people, etc.

Saying hello is one of those small things. Do it well and it’s remembered and effective. Drop the ball – which is what most people do and not send out updated contact information – and it’s no wonder that some people get forgotten or are simply missing in action.

As my friends in the recruiting and executive search world say, hard to be found for great job opportunities if people don’t know how and where to find you.


Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.

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